Tuesday, May 30, 2006

How to Restore With Limited Information

A possible future look at Scarboro

I just found out today that I am one of three architects who have been asked to research and produce a long range plan for Scarboro Golf & County Club. I have been given an amount of time and a budget to provide this to the club. I’m very excited about this opportunity for a couple of reasons. One, the course is a standout, and once well restored or renovated could likely make the top 10 in Canada. While it has a few quirky spots, there are many more moments of shear brilliance in the architecture. Two, the course is attributed to A.W. Tillinghast and this would be my first time working with one of his courses. This now puts me on a path to learn as much about Tillinghast and his architecture as I can. I really like getting to understand the architecture and thought process of a new architect; I find the process very inspiring. I have already read a series of books and contacted a few architects and authors with questions about Tillinghast. I have done much of the intellectual research needed to understand his philosophy and I feel I’m one trip to New York away from collecting all the background information that I need. Third this is my first chance to really do things the way I want to which includes allocating the proper time to do things the best I can. This last freedom is one that I needed if I wanted to do better work.

As I’ve likely stated before I like to restore or renovate through research. I know that some of the key items at Scarboro do exist, but other information still eludes me.

I thought I’d spend the remainder of the blog dealing with the typical problem I may eventually face on this project. What do you do with the architecture when you don’t have any old photos, when the plans and aerials don’t provide enough detail to be accurate, and the existing landforms have been altered? This is the hardest point in a restoration; almost every course has a blank spot or series of blank spots in the information you have to use.

When I have discovered a lost bunker by plan but the original landforms are missing I like to; use the aerials to ensure location, the plans or notes to follow the intent, use the other existing landforms to provide the basics of any new form, and finally draw on a collection of his best work to provide examples to be borrowed. The idea of this is if any new shapes or bunkers need to be created to replace lost ones, the work is essentially still Tillinghast. It has been simply borrowed from another one of his projects to keep his true to his style (and to avoid any hint of my own). As restorers and renovators we are often put in this position. What I aim to do is to try making my work as accurate to the style as possible so that anyone looking at a new bunker may mistake it for an original. If you can’t tell what I’ve done, then I have succeeded in my work.


Peter said...

all the best with that. That's good news.
I think if I had to choose (but who has the choice?!) between Scarboro, Islington and Weston, I'd play Scarboro; it looks like a terrific members/play it every day kind of course.

It also sounds like exactly the kind of client one could wish for.


Anonymous said...


There is a great article on Tillinghast in the current issue of Golf Digest

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